The other night I was reading from the Book of Mormon and some verses just stood out to me. I love it when I read the scriptures and something suddenly pops out. Maybe I feel like I’m actually paying attention for once or maybe it’s something that I need to learn at that point in time for whatever reason. But I thought I’d share the verses with you all today and try and flesh them out for myself even more.
Lessons from a war chapter
Alma 44 documents Captain Moroni boldly giving the facts of life and war to the Lamanite, Zerahemnah. Basically, Moroni is telling it like it is and trying to explain to Zerahemnah why they should surrender and leave the Nephites in peace (namely because the war was a bad idea and the Lord is protecting the Nephites). In verse 4, Moroni says:
4 Now ye see that this is the true faith of God; yea, ye see that God will support, and keep, and preserve us, so long as we are faithful unto him, and unto our faith, and our religion; and never will the Lord suffer that we shall be destroyed except we should fall into transgression and deny our faith.
The part of this statement that struck me was when Moroni said that God will support/keep/preserve the people as long as they are faithful to three things:
- Him (God)
- Their faith
- Their religion
Faithful to faith
The one that particularly got me was being faithful to our faith, and how (according to Moroni) that is distinctly different than our religion (or even God). What is our faith? What is mine? What is yours? Looking up “faith” in the gospel topics on lds.org, it says, “Faith is a principle of action and power. Whenever we work toward a worthy goal, we exercise faith. We show our hope for something that we cannot yet see.”
God wants us to be faithful (or true, diligent, loyal) to our faith. Don’t give up on acting and doing good things because you “hope for things which are not seen, which are true” (Alma 32:21). Be optimistic. Work for what is right. Doing so is different and distinct from being loyal to God or your religion, though both of those hopefully also encourage you to do good things and be optimistic. But is it possible to be faithful to your religion or “the Church” or to God and not be exercising power, working towards good goals, or having hope? I think we can go to church and pray and not be truly exhibiting our “faith.” The Lord wants us to be faithful to the hopefulness of our spirit. Don’t give up on yourself. Sure, you can be loyal to God and religion without believing in you. But what is the point?
Alma 44:5-6 continues on with Moroni saying,
5 And now, Zerahemnah, I command you, in the name of that all-powerful God, who has strengthened our arms that we have gained power over you, by our faith, by our religion, and by our rites of worship, and by our church, and by the sacred support which we owe to our wives and our children, by that liberty which binds us to our lands and our country; yea, and also by the maintenance of the sacred word of God, to which we owe all our happiness; and by all that is most dear unto us—
6 Yea, and this is not all; I command you by all the desires which ye have for life, that ye deliver up your weapons of war unto us, and we will seek not your blood, but we will spare your lives, if ye will go your way and come not again to war against us.
I’m not so much interested in verse 6 right now, mostly I just wanted Moroni to finish his train of thought. So let’s go back to verse 5 where he says that God strengthened the Nephites to gain power over the Lamanites because of:
- their faith
- their religion
- their rites of worship
- their church
- the sacred support they owe to their families
- the liberty that “binds” them to their lands and country
- the maintenance of the sacred word of God
Case by case
Just look at each one of those seven statements alone with “God strengthened the Nephites to gain power over the Lamanites because of…” Did you do it? Wasn’t that interesting and powerful? God protected and helped them prevail against evil because of each of those things—because He knew how important it is that families were protected. Because He respected how they honored the word of God, their faith, and their religion and church (interesting that those are separate again, right?). Also interesting is the wording that liberty binds us to our lands and country. We are honor bound to defend liberty from those who want to take it from this country and land. We shouldn’t abandon the land when things don’t go the way we know they should be going. We need to defend the land that we are bound to protect.
Also fascinating to me was the phrase “rites of worship,” which cross references to “ordinances.” I wondered before I served my mission why it was a requirement that missionaries take out their own endowments in the temple before serving missions. Was it because we needed to know certain things from the temple before we went out to teach about the gospel? But the answer is in the ordinances and the covenants. There is power that we receive from these promises we make with God—these “rites of worship” will protect us and help us defend against evil. Moroni knew that, and we need to know that as well.